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The Destructive Effects of Standardizing Beauty in Society

  • Date Submitted: 04/25/2012 07:47 PM
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The Destructive Effects of Standardizing Beauty in Society
In Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the standardization of whiteness as beauty has devastating effects on the lives of black girls and women. Each character in the novel displays an internalized belief that whiteness is superior, and it is primarily expressed through thoughts of beauty. Claudia realizes the veneration given to white beauty by seeing the attitudes towards white baby dolls and Shirley Temple. Claudia and Frieda are the least susceptible to this self-hatred resulting from standards of beauty in the novel. On the other hand, the adult women in The Bluest Eye cultivate a hatred of their blackness and find those with white skin or even just lighter black skin to be superior. Pauline Breedlove shares the verdict with society that her own daughter, Pecola, is ugly because her skin is so dark. Geraldine, a lighter skinned black woman, forbids her son from playing with boys that have darker skin, and curses Pecola for the same reason. They suffer significantly from white beauty standards, but none suffer quite as badly as Pecola Breedlove. Pecola sees the world like this: if she obtains blue eyes, she will be beautiful, and if she is beautiful, the violence and malice in her life will be immediately replaced with love and affection. Unfortunately for Pecola, this is impossible, but the standards are so heavily enforced, even if it is implicit, that she has no other options for hope. The white beauty standards prove to distort all faith in happiness for black girls and women.  
The worship of whiteness controls all but one main character in The Bluest Eye: Claudia MacTeer. Claudia is an adamant, rebellious nine-year-old who fights society’s worship of whiteness as the standard of beauty. Her ten-year-old sister, Frieda, shares the same stubbornness; however, Frieda falls victim to the beauty standard easier than Claudia does. It is implied that once the girls reach adolescence, they will feel the...


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